Data is everywhere, and it is created in every interaction we have. It’s used across a wide variety of systems and is accessed by many different teams of people for many different purposes.

Your customers can tell when you’re missing data. Having to repeat crucial information when interacting with your business frustrates the experience, creates obstacles to selling, and ultimately impacts their overall experience.

We’re not lacking information, but we could be better at putting data to work.

For better customer acquisition and retention, marketers need to activate data effectively to deliver the seamless, hyper-personalized experiences consumers expect. That means having the technology mix to create a persistent, unified customer database, available as a ‘single source of truth’ to the various teams and systems that need to use it.

But for a truly great customer experience, you need to think broader beyond the digital world. All customer-facing departments need access to valuable customer data if they are to deliver great experiences.

Using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) allows you to deliver a true omnichannel experience, both online and in-person. Most companies are still playing catch up, meaning there’s a big competitive advantage for those businesses that get it right.

The data gap and the need for a single customer view

No one likes repeating information that businesses should have already stored. For example, if you use a loyalty card program at an e-commerce store, you’d expect any earned discounts to be applied. You also expect service providers, like healthcare or financial services, to offer you a tailored service based on your needs and usage. You shouldn’t have to go through your life history every time you interact.

But these ‘data gaps’ are incredibly common, especially between digital and physical channels. Employees of brick-and-mortar stores (which should be considered as another channel) aren’t hardwired into the digital infrastructure of their business. Instead, employees rely on terminals and smartphones to retrieve customer information.

Your CDP must be able to deliver real-time data to these devices, so that in-person customer interactions can flow as smoothly as digital ones. It also has to be intuitive and easy-to-use on the job, with appropriate access rights given to employees on the floor.

To hit their goals and build strong customer relationships, sales and customer service teams rely on such a system, which would allow them to understand demographics, and anticipate customer’s needs and actions, regardless of the touchpoint.

But more than just having the CDP in place, they also rely on customer data being presented as a ‘single customer view.’ Customer data isn’t helpful if it’s spread over multiple profiles or records. No, your CDP needs to be organized so that each customer only has a single record of their name.

It’s only in this way that your business will be able to create a customer-centric strategy, bridge data gaps, and deliver a consistent, engaging omnichannel experience, from email to social media and landing pages, no matter how customers interact.

Once this is in place, the next step is to develop a personalization, automation, recommendation, and decisioning engine that supports digital transformation in the most effective ways.

Beyond traditional personalization

Traditional personalization has laid a strong foundation, but the time for a more dynamic approach is soon to arrive.

Ideally, you want the customer themselves to guide their personalization, rather than leave it up to the assumptions of the marketing team. This is what we call ‘decisioning’ – that is, the ability for customers to forge their own path through an experience while still encountering relevant, helpful content. They do this by simply making choices, which are registered within the CDP and used to direct personalization accordingly.

Sitecore provides what we call a ‘Smart Hub CDP’. In addition to capturing and unifying data – a core requirement of all CDPs – Sitecore’s solution layers significant decisioning, experimentation, optimization, and personalization capabilities to activate that data.

A CDP like this can really enable decisioning like no other tool. In-built decisioning functions can use rules and predictive analytics to make smart decisions about the customers that are ripe for customer engagement. A Smart Hub CDP can help to create the next best experience using insight direct from the source, whether that’s a tailored offer, a discount, a simple push notification, or a piece of website content.

A true omnichannel customer experience, online and offline

Delivering consistent and engaging omnichannel experiences should be the goal of any modern business, and a CDP will be absolutely central to achieving it.

But a tool is only as effective as the marketing strategy behind it. Businesses must ensure that their CDP is delivering a true single customer view, that this data is available to those who need it, and that it enables effective decisioning for marketers to really drive home their messages.

Sitecore’s market-leading CDP and expert support could be the key to unlocking the true potential of your customer data. To get started, read more about the lightning-fast capabilities of Sitecore CDP or visit the Knowledge Center.